The Crazy Hat Box

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Essential Oils for the Non-Fanatic

I love using Essential Oils.  I think they are beneficial for a lot of things, but I’m not one of those people who thinks they are a panacea. I don’t think they’ll cure horrible diseases or that they should be used in place of medicine.  Also, double check that an oil is safe to use on your skin before doing so.  Some of them are really potent, and can cause a lot of pain when applied directly!

That said, I do love them.  Here’s how I use them.

Alleviate Cold Symptoms

At the beginning of winter, I stock up on Eucalyptus essential oil.  It smells like Vicks VapoRub, helping to alleviate coughing and congestion.  I put a few drops in the boys’ bath water and their humidifiers when they have colds.  Whey they are really having trouble with coughing, I start a steamy shower and fill up the sink with hot water and few drops of Eucalyptus oil, and we sit in the steamy bathroom for a while.  You can also add Rosemary and Peppermint essential oils to create a cold symptom-alleviating cocktail!


We all know that lavender is supposed to help soothe and calm you.  And, that’s how I use it.  Primarily, I will put a little dab on my face before bed to help relax me.  I’ve also heard that Lavender is beneficial for your skin and also helps to lessen the effects of allergies, so that can’t hurt, either!  And lavender is one of the mildest essential oils, so you don’t have to worry about using it on little ones!

Soothe Skin Irritations

Not only is lavender beneficial for your skin, it can also help with minor skin irritations.  It helps soothe razor burn, and can even help bug bites be less itchy and irritated.  The thing about it, though, is that the relief isn’t long-lasting.  You have to re-apply when the oil wears off.


I clean my kitchen with white vinegar, but I really don’t like the smell of it, so I always add essential oils to my bottle to help mask the smell.  My new favorite oil to add is cinnamon.  It not only smells good, but it’s also supposed to have antibacterial qualities, making it a great addition to my vinegar!  On a side note, cinnamon is very, very harsh.  Don’t get it on bare skin or you will regret it!  Trust me, I know.

I also mix a little essential oil with water in a spray bottle and use it as a linen spray.  Choose something like lavender or orange, or whatever makes you happy!  You could even try your own scent combinations!

Freshen the Air

To make your house smell amazing, try using your favorite essential oil in an essential oil diffuser.

For more information on essential oils and their use, check out the book Modern Essentials Usage Guide.


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The Savings Addict Part 3

This is the final post in this 3 part series by Jennifer.  For her bio and to see the previous posts:
Click here for part 1
Click here for part 2

The Cherry On Top

Well, by now hopefully you are saving at least a few bucks but clipping aside, here are a few more ways!    Just to review where to start, first, pay attention to your most frequently purchased goods so that you can stock pile, watch the sales via the ads on Wednesdays and Sundays, and clip those coupons in Sunday papers or from online sources.    Here’s a great way to just add a little extra or a lot, depending on how you commit to it.  Apps and loyalty cards.   Beautiful things.  My mother never had these amazing little money savers when I was a wee girl.  I have a HyVee Fuel Saver card, a Chopper Shopper card, a CVS Extra Care card, a Walgreens Balanced Rewards card, a Hen House Rewards card.  I even have a Lamar’s donut card because I have a donut addiction.  If you use it, find a way to save while using it.  They are loyalty cards afterall, and if they want to pay for loyalty, let them.   These might get you a discount on products in store, or fuel, or even give you cash back for future use in the store.  Now that you’ve signed up for these plastic wonders there are some apps you should know about.

You clip coupons via the app or online and it tracks your purchases by your loyalty cards.  You enter those in when you set up your account.  You can get your coupon savings back via your back account, PayPal or gift cards from various retailers.  I had this before I finally jumped on board the the smart phone train.


You take surveys, post on Facebook, or watch a video to earn a certain amount of money.  You do need a smart phone or tablet for this.  You buy the product, scan the UPC, then take a picture of the receipt and viola, the money is yours.  They have bonuses for completing certain tasks which earn you extra money.  They also can be used at restaurants, online retailers, pet stores, home improvement stores, health and beauty retailers, and movies.  In less than a year its given me back $160.  You get your rebates back via PayPal, Venmo (like PayPal) or giftcards.  For me that was about $20 a month.


This app lets you upload the receipt for certain products and then once confirmed the rebate is put directly into your PayPal account.


This you don’t even have to buy anything.  You earn kicks for walking into stores with app open and for scanning products.  However if you want to enter your credit card info, they will give you more kicks as you buy certain items within these retailers.  You can buy gift cards with these kicks and if you just save them up over time maybe that can help with a big purchase.

Checkout 51

This app lets you upload the receipt for certain products and then once confirmed the rebate is added to your account.  When you reach $20 you can cash out and they will send you a check in the mail.  It changes every Wednesday and occasionally has a bonus way to earn extra.


This is a Target exclusive but my favorite.  This one can be used simultaneously with Target coupons and manufacturer coupons.  This is a flat percentage off of items.  It can be anything from groceries to toys to clothing and more.  You don’t actually need the app but can sign up on Target’s website for it and select the items you’d like to save on then print out the barcode before going to the store.  Sometimes it just saves a buck or two and other times it saves way way more!  I’ve been using it since May 2013, so a little over a year, and have saved $468.  You can only use it in store but it is a gold mine.  The more you use it the more slots for savings you get.  I have 23 slots to fill and I can move things off if I want something else more.  There are limitations.  You can only buy four of each type of Cartwheel item and only use it once a day.
Little by little you will see the savings add up.  Then you can feel less of the squeeze each month or save for that special vacation or splurge or maybe just that rainy day.  However, you choose to use your savings, enjoy!  And remember, there are savings everywhere, you just have to look!


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Date Night on the Cheap

We have a budget.  I’m not saying we’re always perfect about following it.  However, when we’re really on a roll and following it to the letter, we sometimes don’t have a lot left to spend on date night right before the next payday.  This was the solution I came up with.  I got 3 jars.  1 has “Free” on it, 1 has $5.00 on it and 1 has $20.00 on it.  In each one is a bunch of folded papers with different date night options that correspond with the amount in that jar.  It’s a fun way to be a little spontaneous without spending a lot of money.  We draw a piece of paper according to our budget and do what it says.  Here are some of my ideas:

Twenty Dollar Jar

$20.00 Jar

I will start with the $20.00 Jar.  It’s pretty easy to come up with date ideas with 20 bucks.

1.  Take the dogs to PetSmart and get them each a treat or a toy.

2.  Split the money and go to the thrift store (we both love thrift stores).

3.  Buy a new movie (either my choice or his depending on the paper), pop some popcorn, and watch it together.

4.  Pizza and a movie rental.

5.  Go out for dessert and coffee.

6.  Go out for appetizers (there are a lot of restaurants that have 1/2 price appetizers after a certain time).

7.  Go to the grocery store, buy the stuff for dinner and cook together.

8.  Go to a retail store and buy each other a $10.00 gift.  You can do a theme (romantic, funny, fun etc..)  Try to keep it a surprise until you get home.

Five Dollar Jar

$5.00 Jar

You have to get a little more creative with $5.00, but it can be done.

1.  Go to Red Box for a movie and get drinks from QuickTrip (local gas station) or from Happy Hour at Sonic

2.  Go to the $5.00 movie bin at the local retail store and find a fun, silly, or old movie.

3.  Split a $5.00 foot long from Subway or other deli’s that have a similar deal.

4.  Go to the Dollar Tree and pick out some fun snacks for a movie at home.

5.  Take $5 worth of quarters and go clean the car together.

6.  Go out for ice cream.

Free Jar

Free Jar

This one can be a challenge, but you can do it!  Here are some of the things I came up with.  Feel free to comment with any other ideas you have.

1.  Print up instructions from the internet for a card game you’ve never played and teach yourselves how to play it.

2.  Give each other pedicures (if you can talk your husband into it).

3.  Load the dogs in the car and go for a nice drive.  Play the car alphabet game while you’re at it.

4.  Figure out something new to make for dinner with the ingredients you already have.

5.  Make dessert together.

6.  Take the dogs for a walk.

7.  Gather and take donations to the thrift store.  You can spend time together for a good cause.

8.  Go to the library.  Pick a book to read together or a book on CD to listen to together.

9.  Picnic and/or camp out in the living room (one of my personal favorites).

10.  Dress up and make a candlelight dinner.

So, there are a few of my ideas.  There is more to do than you think for very little money.  Have fun, be creative.  It doesn’t just have to be a date night thing.  You can get the whole family involved!



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The Last-Minute Father’s Day

Did you know that Sunday is Father’s Day?  Yeah, me too.  But, I have a, um, friend who didn’t realize that since June 1 was on a Sunday, the third Sunday in June would fall on the 15th.  Really early.  Anyway, I my friend started looking for Father’s Day crafts on Pinterest (where else?) that the her kids could do for their awesome, amazing dad.  I She wanted to share the list with you, in case you, too, were a little caught off guard by Father’s Day.

Here’s my her Pinterest list of the top seven things you can do for last-minute Father’s Day gifts.  You can do most of these things with stuff you probably already have on hand.  Why only seven things?  Because who has the time to look for more?  It’s two days away, people!  The kids and I  She and her kids need to get crafting!

1.  A personalized coffee mug

2.  A Father’s Day Coupon Book

3.  Superhero Dad Book

4.  All About My Dad Page

5.  A Picture of your kids wearing dad’s clothes.  You could take the picture yourself and either print it at home or at a one-hour photo lab.  Or, if you’re really pressed for time, post it on his Facebook wall as a sort of e-card.

6.  A Jar of Candy With a Cute Saying

7.  A Printable Card Your Kids can Color.  It even has a cute, printable envelope to go with it!


You can also see these on our Father’s Day Crafts Pinterest board.






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A Few of My Favorite Things (about my Dad).

We decided to join forces for this one.  This will be the first in a series about some of our favorite things.  We thought this one would be appropriate for Father’s Day!  We hope you have great memories of your dad and have things that you love about him.

by Kendel

His Sense of Humor

One of my favorite memories about my dad is how much he made me laugh.  He’s funny.  He has a dry, smart sense of humor.  I married a really funny man and my dad made me appreciate that about him.  He also loved to hide and scare the living daylights out of me and I loved every second of it.

His Patriotism

My dad raised me to be proud of my country.  To vote (you can’t complain unless you do).  He was in the military.  He is a Vietnam vet.  He doesn’t talk about it much, but I’m proud that he served his country in the Army.

His Love of Baseball

I got that from him.  I love going to the game.  I love the whole experience.  Peanuts, Cracker Jacks, Hot Dogs and the 7th inning stretch.  He took the time to really teach me about the game.  I can’t go to a game without thinking about him.  We need to go to a game again soon Dad.

His Compassion

I always felt loved.  ALWAYS.  Even when he wasn’t very happy with what I did.  I never doubted for one minute that he loved me.  He told me often and he proved it always.

His Protection

I always felt safe.  He always did a thorough job of checking out any guy that wanted to date me.  At the time it was a little embarrassing, but I still love that he protected me.

I feel blessed indeed that this is the man God saw fit to raise me.  I love you dad!!


by Melissa

His Care and Concern for Others

My dad has a real caring heart for others. I am so glad that this is one of the things that I have learned from him. He never thinks twice about plowing an elderly neighbors driveway in the winter, most of the time he just does it and leaves without even letting them know who did it. He has been a police officer longer than I have been alive and has helped thousands of people in his time with the force. He has received several life saving awards for going above and beyond to save a life.

His Love of the Outdoors

I have so many fond memories from my childhood of camping and fishing with my dad and the rest of the family. We had all kinds of  crazy things happen, everything from a flooded tent to a                               squirrel chewing through our Tupperware and eating our bread! It never slowed us down or stopped us. I am looking forward to taking my kids along with their grandpa for more outdoor adventures!

Taking the Time to Teach me to Drive a Car with a Manual Transmission

I was a month away from graduating from college and really needed a new car. I bought a truck and it had a manual transmission. I had no idea how to drive it and one of my parents drove it home from the car lot for me. My dad then got the fun job of taking me out and teaching me how to drive it. It took more than one trip out for me to get the hang of it but my dad always stayed calm and patient with me the whole time. Knowing how to drive a manual transmission has come in handy several times and I’m glad it is a life skill that I have!

His Stories

My dad tells the best stories! The story could be about one of his police adventures or some crazy cooking idea that he had to try out.  The stories always get a good laugh or touch your heart. I could listen to my dad’s stories over and over again all day! Dad we really should write some of these stories down so that we will always have them. I love that you share so many things that have happen to you with all of us through your stories.

How Great of a Grandpa He is

It is amazing to see how much my dad loves my kids. He never thinks twice about taking my daughter out to the neighbors “park” ( this is a swing set next door to my parents house but my daughter calls it a park) or hold my new little son so that I can eat a hot dinner. I know that he did those things for me when I was growing up but being little myself I don’t think that I viewed them the same way. I love the way his eyes light up when my daughter runs to him yelling “PAPA!” or when my son grasps his finger.


by Ali

His Silliness

My dad has always been so silly!  From the shenanigans of chasing us around the house as the daddy monster to the terrible jokes he told our friends when we were teens (we were so embarrassed!), he’s always been able to show us that it’s okay to be silly!  It’s something my sisters and I have carried into our families with our kids and nieces and nephews. And, as a grandpa, his silliness continues, which the grand-kids find hilarious!

His Concern for Our Spiritual Welfare

My dad took the time to have Bible studies with us.  He took the time to pray with us.  He didn’t mind us listening in on his conversations with other adults about the Bible.  I learned so much.  He gave me a Spiritual background that not many get and that I often take for granted.  And I know that he prays for me, which means so much.

His Hard Work

My dad taught me the value of hard work.  He was always doing things around the house and fixing things himself to save our family money.  And, by watching him, I learned how to do a lot of those things myself!

Sunday Afternoons and Bedtime

Sunday afternoons were the best!  They were usually lazy times in between Sunday morning and Sunday evening church services.  Sometimes we’d watch the dust floating in the sunbeams from the window.  Sometimes, we’d lay outside on the grass and find shapes in the clouds, and sometimes we’d listen as dad told us stories about when he was little.  Bedtime, too, was so much fun with the “Everybody Game”.  Each person got a turn picking a motion that everyone had to do (“Everybody… wave their right hand”; “Everybody… pretend to sleep!”).  I don’t know why, but we so enjoyed that simple game!

His Love of Gardening

My dad, like his dad, has always had a garden.  It was something I was never interested in until I became an adult with my own house.  Now, I too love to plant seeds and watch them grow and eat the fruits (or vegetables) of my labor.

How Much He Loves His Grand-kids

My dad loves my kids as much as I do!  He loves spending time with them and playing games with them.  He lets them help with little tasks, which makes them feel important, and he’s always telling me how smart and strong and amazing my kids are, which every parent loves to hear!

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Footprint Butterfly Flowerpots

I love Pinterest! There are all kinds of neat projects and organization ideas that I would love to try and make for myself. A little before mother’s day I found a pin that I thought would make a great gift idea for the moms and grandmas in my life. It is the butterfly flower pot pin. This seems to be a pretty popular pin. I did some looking around to see where the idea came from. I think that Carol’s Classic Gifts and Décor’s had the original idea and posted it on their Facebook page. There is a chance that this is wrong and if that is the case please let us at The Crazy Hat Box know.

Here is a photo of what I got started with. A flower pot, some washable paint, paint brushes and a foot.

photo 1


I took one of my daughter’s shoes with me when I was shopping for the flower pots to make sure that I bought one that was large enough for her foot print to fit on. I let her pick out the three colors that she wanted to paint on her foot. She picked purple, red, and blue. I painted her foot while my husband held her foot so that she didn’t get the paint everywhere. Next her foot was pressed against the flower pot.

photo 2photo 3

We made several of these pots so we did all the footprints from one foot on all the pots before moving to the other foot. When we had my daughter’s foot prints finished we moved to my son. We chose two colors for him since his foot is so tiny. We repeated the same process with his footprints.

photo 4

Once the footprints were dry I took a sharpie and drew in the butterfly body.

photo 5

Here is what it looked like with both butterflies complete.

photo 6


We had extra paint and my daughter loves to paint so we let her paint the tray that goes under the flower pots to add a special touch to them.

photo 8

My husband wrote on the top of the pots “Happy Mother’s Day 2014” and the kid’s names and ages. Yes, my husband has better handwriting than I do.

The washable paint was great for getting the paint off of the little feet but we didn’t want the paint to come off of the flowerpots so we sprayed the flower pots with a clear sealer to protect the footprints.

photo 7

When everything was drying we went to the store and picked out flowers to put in the pots. My daughter just loved this part! She had a great time getting all the colorful flowers! After the pots were dry we planted the flowers and our mother’s gifts were complete!

photo 9

This project was a lot of fun for all of us and was pretty easy! This was a great way to give a personalized gift that the moms and grandmas loved! I would call this a Pinterest success!

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What Your Pharmacist Wishes You Knew

A great post from a guest blogger, a Pharmacist, Dr. Becky.


Greetings friends! My name is Becky and I’m probably the oldest “new” pharmacy graduate you’ll ever meet! After earning my bachelor’s degree in psychology (back in the Jurassic period), I spent 11 years working as a juvenile officer. And then, one fine day, I got a wild hair and decided to go back to school to become a pharmacist. It was a long, hard journey (let me repeat…it was a long, hard journey) but definitely one of the best decisions I’ve made.   Last May, I finally became Dr. Becky (did you know most pharmacists have a doctorate???). And since then, I’ve been practicing community pharmacy and loving every minute of it!

I will probably jinx myself by saying this, but I think I’ve just about seen it all during my time in the pharmacy. Stop it. I know what you’re thinking. How could she have possibly seen it all in one short year? Keep in mind I worked as a pharmacy technician for 5 years before becoming a full-blooded pharmacist. And as I soon found out after entering the world of pharmacy, most folks assume EVERYONE behind that counter is a pharmacist and they aren’t ashamed to share the goriest details of their lives with anyone who will listen. So…I really have seen, heard (and smelled) it all. Believe me when I say nothing really shocks me anymore!

With that being said, and drawing upon the most frequently encountered scenarios in my pharmacy, I’d like to share the top three things I think you should know:

It’s all about the Benjamins.

Just because your doctor wrote for generic doesn’t mean it will be cheap. Yes, in most instances, generic is cheaper than brand. However, drug prices and insurance co-payments depend upon lots of things, unfortunately none of which I can control. But, I can help save you money by suggesting therapeutic alternatives and calling your doctor for permission to change. And as a side note, it also helps to know if your insurance plan uses a “preferred” pharmacy or mail-order services, or if you have an annual deductible. I can’t stress enough how important it is to become familiar with your prescription drug coverage, preferably before you need it. This can save you tons of money, time, and frustration. And if you don’t have insurance, take the time to call different pharmacies to compare cash prices.

No magic bullet.

Please do not waste your hard-earned money on weight loss products. Generally speaking, they are ineffective and can have detrimental effects on heart rate, blood pressure and even mood.   It pains me to say this, but when it comes to weight loss, there is no quick and easy fix (despite what you hear on Dr. Oz!). No pill will melt away unwanted fat. It’s all about good old-fashioned diet and exercise. Strive to make long-lasting life style changes that incorporate a healthful, balanced diet and adequate exercise.

Don’t believe the hype.

The internet is a great place to get reacquainted with old friends, check movie times for date night, or even find a last-minute gift for Father’s Day (which reminds me…), but it is NOT a great place to get your medication information. While there are some reputable sites, it still takes some specialized training and clinical skills to appropriately interpret the information. Otherwise, you run the risk of scaring the pants off your behind or discrediting a potentially beneficial treatment option. Listen folks, as tempted as you may be to google the name of the new drug your doctor just prescribed, do yourself a favor and come see me instead. Let me educate you. It’s what I spent 5 years of my life learning to do. And it’s my favorite part of the job.


Take care, God bless, and always remember to be nice to your pharmacist!

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The Cakeless Birthday

Cake.  It’s the traditional birthday food.  You put candles on it.  You eat it with ice-cream.  If you’re going to a birthday party, you can always count on cake being there.

But what if you (or your kids) don’t like cake?

I know it sounds unbelievable that any kid wouldn’t like cake, but mine don’t.  They never have.  For their first few birthdays, I still made cake or cupcakes because that’s what you do for birthdays.  I’d serve the cake to the guests, and give the birthday boy Oreos or Reeses for his dessert – what he really wanted. But then I thought, why make something they don’t like (as cute as those cakes and cupcakes were)?  It’s THEIR birthday, and who says we HAVE to have cake?  So, I started coming up with alternatives.

Sugar Cookies

My oldest son loves sugar cookies, so that’s been his birthday dessert of choice for the last two years.  They are a great alternative because you can find cookie cutter shapes for almost any theme!  An added bonus is that my kids love to help make sugar cookies, making it a fun pre-birthday party activity to do together!




Rice Krispie Treats

I love this option because you can mold Rice Krispie Treats into any cake pan and decorate it with icing like a cake!  And, you can even add some variety and make them with other kinds of cereal – in this case, I also used Trix.  This is a great option, too, if you’re worried about kids with milk allergies (but in this case you’d probably have to omit the icing).




Donut “Cake”

Technically, donuts are kind of a form of cake, but that deep-fried goodness somehow makes them so much better (and magically makes them ok to eat for breakfast).  I love this because you can stack them like a cake, add icing to decorate them like a cake, and they’re already separated into portions.  And, you can get several different kinds so that everyone is sure to find something they like!





For my youngest son’s last birthday, I made Cookie’s ‘n Cream cupcakes, but I reserved some of the plain Oreos for non-cake lovers.  Since he had a Mickey Mouse birthday party, I made the Oreos look like Mickey, so they went perfectly with the theme!



For your next party, don’t be afraid to think outside the cake pan!  Be creative!

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Hives! or Put Your Glasses on First

I have terribly dry skin.  In the winter, in the Midwest, it’s something I have to stay on top of or pay the price.  So, I went to one of those places with all kinds of smell-good bath supplies.  I bought a lovely smelling set of lotion and body wash.  I confess that I have learned through the years that any lotion that has fragrance in it isn’t the best choice for my dry skin, but that’s beside the point.  I was excited to use it.  The next morning after I got in the shower I realized I had forgotten to put my body wash in the shower, but it wasn’t worth it, so I just used the regular stuff and decided I would just have to use it the next day.  I got out of the shower, dried off, and applied the lotion.  It smelled really good.  It made me happy.  So, from the neck down, I hydrated my skin.  I put the body wash in the shower so I didn’t forget again, finished getting ready, and I was on my way to work.  Once I arrived, I noticed that my legs were starting to itch a little.  I chalked it up to dry skin and tried to ignore it.  As time went on, the itching got worse and spread.  I excused myself to the ladies room and pulled up a pant leg.  My skin was bright red.  Bumps were everywhere.  Great.  What was going on?  I made it through the day.  When I got home I went to the bathroom to assess the damage.  I went to grab the lotion and look at the ingredients (I’m not really sure why I did this, because I wouldn’t have known what I was allergic to).  As soon as I grabbed the bottle I realized the problem.  I had put body wash on me instead of body lotion.  Yep, just rubbed it all over.  I jumped in the shower to wash it off, but it was too late (it suds up really nicely though).  The damage was done.  A visit to the dermatologist and a lot of oatmeal baths later, I had learned my lesson.  Put you glasses on first Kendel.





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